The Mother of Invention

Get to know the survival journey of Rosanna Radding, our Tips & Tricks columnist and founder of OneHandCan.com.




"Get used to it."

That is what Rosanna Radding’s neurologist told her three months after a stroke left her unable to use her left side.

Rosanna preparing a wax model for one of her jewelry designs

“We were devastated. My partner Carol and I both cried. Until then, we had never thought about me not being able to do more. We never even let it enter our heads,” Rosanna remembered.

At that point, Rosanna was not walking well and felt unstable in her gait. She couldn’t do anything with her left hand and couldn’t raise her left arm. She was dealing with severe left neglect, a common post-stroke condition for those with right-brain injury in which the use and awareness of the left side of the body is limited or absent.

New Year’s Eve 1994, at age 43, Rosanna experienced a TIA. Out of the blue, the entire left side of her body felt very heavy, and her speech became slurred. Her symptoms resolved before paramedics arrived, but she was taken to the ER anyway and sent home shortly after. A few hours later, two minutes after midnight on January 1, 1995, she suffered a full-blown stroke that left her unable to move her left side. Though she had made some progress three months later, Rosanna couldn’t accept the neurologist’s statement that she would never progress beyond where she was then.

“Being the eternal optimist, I always kept the thought in my head that I would regain everything I had lost,” she said. “But I was scared and struggled with not being able to do the things I had always been able to do before the stroke, even the simplest of things like tying my shoes, buttoning a blouse or zipping up my jeans.”

So Rosanna started adapting and inventing things right away.

As an artist, Rosanna had always been innovative. When artists want to create something, they figure out ways to make their visions come to life, and Rosanna’s artistic training carried over into her new life.

It was Rosanna’s occupational therapist who first noticed her inventive approach to recovery. Thinking that Rosanna’s innovations could assist others, she told her about the Rehabilitation Engineering and Technology (RET) Certificate Program through San Francisco State University, which trains graduate students to design tools that help people with disabilities gain more independence, get jobs and enjoy recreational activities. Going back to school was a daunting prospect for Rosanna. “I didn’t even know if my brain worked well enough for it,” she recalled. “But I was willing to test it.”

 

Rosanna’s CanDo Cutting Board

Luckily her brain did work. Rosanna went on to earn her RET Certificate and develop the One Hand CanDo Cutting Board, a patent-pending chopping board designed specifically for one-handed use (onehandcan.com). The CanDo Board cleverly uses a combination of prongs and bands to assist the one-handed chef in chopping, dicing and grating. Rosanna regularly conducts one-handed cooking demonstrations, teaching participants how to chop onions, grate cheese and prep garlic, along with other adaptations. She calls herself a motivational cook.

Her inventions don’t stop in the kitchen though. She also sculpts stone and creates custom jewelry. She has adapted her art tools, like her chisel, for one-handed use and has created a system for casting intricate wax jewelry models for gold and silver with only one hand.

Today, Rosanna walks well with a supportive foot brace. She still has trouble with her left arm, but she can raise it to shoulder height and use it for gross motor activities like carrying laundry or securing vegetables on her chopping board. She can hold things with her left thumb — all a far cry from what she was told she would ever be able to do.

Already a sought-after speaker, inventor and designer, Rosanna also maintains a website and video series called “One Hand Can” where she talks about post-stroke issues and offers solutions to one-handed people trying to “re-able” their lives in a two-handed world. Beginning this issue, readers can also find Rosanna’s inventive advice in Stroke Connection, as she pens a regular tips column about one-handed living.

She recognizes that many survivors feel daunted by the idea of adapting their lives, especially if they aren’t inherently creative. “It’s really not about creativity,” she said. “I believe anybody can do whatever they want as long as they are willing to engage their self-love, ingenuity, patience and perseverance. Creativity is secondary.” She also encourages survivors to utilize their network and ask for ideas from other people, including her, if they can’t figure out how to get something done.

Rosanna finds a more entertaining use for her walking stick

Even with the growing popularity of her chopping board and cooking demonstrations, Rosanna doesn’t want to be known only for innovative cooking tips. Still, she maintains that cooking is the single most important form of rehab for a survivor because it helps regain independence, builds confidence and teaches skills that translate to other areas of life. It also strengthens the ability to think through steps, especially if, like Rosanna, one’s deductive reasoning was affected.

Rosanna gets excited as she describes a survivor who contacted her after buying her CanDo board. “He emailed saying that he didn’t think he could do anything. But now he’s having a blast. He can cook meals for his wife and son.”

She says that her inventions change her life because they’re changing other people’s lives.

And that’s something she can get used to.


Editor’s Note: We’re excited to have Rosanna on board as a regular tips columnist for our Everyday Survival department. Have a task you’d like Rosanna to write about? We want to hear from you! Send your tip requests to strokeconnection@heart.org.

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. These tips, products or resources have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

- Advertisement -

This link is provided for convenience only and is not an endorsement or recommendation of either the linked-to entity or any product or service.

AD. Bayer logo. Tough on cold symptoms, not on your blood pressure. Coricidin HBP Cold & Flu. Get $1 off. Use as directed.


AD. American Heart Association logo. Know your blood pressure numbers. And what they mean. Gain Control.  Learn more.


 

Ad: American Heart Association Support Network. Facing recovery after a stroke or heart disease diagnosis can be overwhelming. You are not alone. Our community is here for you. Join us today. heart.org/SupportNetwork.


 

Stroke Connection. Get the app for free.


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!